Today’s topic is Are You Shooting Free Throws Blindfolded?, a discussion on the recent changes in gmail and hotmail inbox filtering systems.
In early April, Gmail and Hotmail made some sweeping changes in their filters – which caused a lot of emails generated from large-scale email service providers to land in the junk folder. I wanted to take some time to explain the developments and what it means for you.
If you are sending out email newsletters or other communications to your readership, you may be frustrated by Gmail and Hotmail’s seemingly tempermental filters. Despite following stringent spam compliance rules, your emails may still land squarely in the spam box.
This phenomenon may have even caused you many hours of testing innocent email messages and unnecessarily scrutinizing your content syllable by syllable, pixel by pixel.
In some instances, a random edit may cause your email to land in the inbox. In other cases, your edits will cause your email (which landed in your inbox a day ago) to make itself at home in the spam folder.
In short, your emails may seem like a victim of circumstance rather than a result of calculated logic and strategy.
Lately, Gmail and other services have changed their filters to evaluate the reputation of the domain, rather than the reputation of the IP.
Traditionally, users of email service providers would deliver emails along a set range of IP addresses. If the email service provider had a great reputation, then malicious emails could travel through those channels and drop into your inbox. Much like the Trojan horse in the Aeneid, many senders of malicious emails would hide behind the reputation of a credible ESP to send spam.
In order to curtail this practice, and to provide a more pleasant user experience, many major ISP’s (AOL, MSN, etc.) are weighing characteristics like the sender’s domain name, URLs included in the message, the from name and address, as well as IP address.
As there are more pronounced criteria to evaluate email messages, the honus is on the sender more now than ever.
Undoubtedly, this change in evaluating the validity of an email message requires a change in email development.
So what can we do? Here are some recommended best practices to adopt so that you can have email success!
The first tip is to keep your list well-maintained. Consider removing subscriber email addresses that have not be responsive – either via opening emails or other response activities.
When individuals hit the “report spam” button or otherwise complain about your email message – take that feedback into serious consideration. A readership that is riled up and unsatisfied will not be beneficial to you.
Take care to authenticate your email messages – use proper “from” email addresses. Do not attempt to route your messages through third-party servers or computers hooked to the public Internet.
Be sure to include legitimate headers and footers that contain your contact information – company name, contact name, corporate mailing address.
Continuously monitor the frequency of your email campaigns. Sending too few email campaigns can be just as unengaging and detrimental to your overall email strategy.